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In theory, workers in China are promised security through official trade union representation and the rule of the Communist Party. In practice, confronted with the endless churning of a globalised labour market, they are increasingly voting with their feet.
Huang Xingguo, chairman of Changde Walmart store trade union, today called on workers to stand united as the deadline for Walmart’s compensation offer approaches.
A restructuring of Walmart’s China business is being challenged by the country’s normally reticent official union, which is involved in at least one of three protests that have erupted at stores slated for closure this month.
Police moved in on Friday 21 March to remove the 143 workers had been picketing a Walmart store in the central Chinese city of Changde for two weeks, after management announced 4 March that the store would close down on. Several workers were injured.
We called the experts in Hong Kong to learn about the harsh labor conditions and brutal management culture. The images of suicides, protests, stolen wages, and prison labor are, according to our expert in China, fairly typical.
Following the vicious attack on a 28-year-old nurse at a Nanjing hospital last month, healthcare workers in that city discuss what needs to be done.
Workers at several Pepsi factories across China went on strike 5 March 2014 in a protest against management’s plans for large-scale layoffs, pay cuts, and reduced benefits. Workers displayed banners around the factories stating “No to illegal layoffs! We demand jobs! We need to live! We have a family to feed!”
After yet more violent assaults on doctors and nurses in China, the issue of hospital workers’ safety is once again in the headlines. However, no one seems to be asking what the trade union at China’s hospitals is doing to protect its members.
China is the big business story of the 21st century, but is it also the big labor story?
The industrial city of Dongguan in Guangdong Province, China, is so littered with factories that when 1,000 workers at a Taiwanese-owned Croc manufacturing company gathered outside to protest cuts to their bonuses in the spring of 2012, no one took notice.

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